Brad Evans rescued Jurgen Klinsmann and the United States from another deflating World Cup qualifier on the road.
It looked like the US had thrown away two valuable points in the 89th minute Jermaine Beckford was left unmarked to score from six yards out from Rodolph Austin’s 40-yard free kick. The ball travelled a long way in the air, but Tim Howard stood rooted on his line as Beckford scored from six yards out. Howard is the best goalkeeper in CONCACAF, but he should have done better with the cross.
It seemed like deja vu for the Americans who wasted an early lead during a semifinal-round loss at Jamaica last September.
But this time the US were able to get a winner a minute into stoppage time when Michael Bradley quickly played an corner kick short to Graham Zusi. He got the ball right back and faked around Alvas Powell and picked out an unmarked Evans who turned and beat Donovan Ricketts from about 8 yards.
This is a game that shouldn’t have been so difficult. The US dominated the first half and almost scored in the opening minutes, but Bradley’s shot hit the inside of the post.
It was only a matter of time until the U.S. scored and it came from Jozy Altidore, his second goal in as many games. Zusi beat his man and put in a terrific cross for Jozy to head home from six yards out.
The goal deflated a Jamaica side that had just lost at home to Mexico a couple of days earlier, and they were there to be beaten. But once again the U.S. did not press forward and kill the game off.
And that is a worrying thing about this American side. They don’t do a good job finishing teams off, especially away from home.They had scored the first goal in four of five previous road qualifiers under Klinsmann but were only 1-2-1 in those matches.
And a lot of the blame for that has to be placed at the feet of Klinsmann. In the second half the US were very conservative, and they sat back and invited Jamaica to attack them. That is an ok tactic if you are Italy, but the U.S. are not good enough defensively to do that and not concede. Which is what happened. Luckily, Evans was on hand to bail Klinsmann out and secure the three points for the U.S.
With the win the U.S. have seven points after four games, trailing Costa Rica on goal difference and ahead of Mexico on goals scored. Last night Costa Rico won 1-0 at home against Honduras on a goal by the New York Red Bulls’ Roy Miller, and Mexico drew 0-0 at Panama (1-0-3), which has six points.
The US play Panama at home on Tuesday in Seattle, and then they play Honduras on June 18 at Sandy, Utah. Two wins and the US will be all but assured of a top three finish and a trip to Brazil next summer.